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Socially acceptable: NCAA rules changes give coaches new way to connect to recruits

first_img Published on January 30, 2013 at 12:31 am Contact Phil: [email protected] | @PhilDAbb College coaches love the new recruiting rule. High school coaches don’t.In June, the NCAA approved a rule that permits Division-I men’s basketball coaches to send unlimited text messages and make unlimited phone calls to recruits who have finished their sophomore year of high school. The rule also allows college coaches to send private messages to their prospects via Facebook and Twitter. Any public messages about a team’s recruiting efforts are still prohibited.“I think it’s been a great change in the fact that it allows us as coaches and also the prospects to further develop a relationship,” said Matthew Graves, associate head coach at Butler. “It’s been a big positive, especially being able to text a recruit after he’s had a big game. It’s more of an immediate response.”Previously, the NCAA limited the coaches’ ability to contact players to just one phone call per month. The NCAA approved the deregulation as part of a new recruiting model intended to help develop stronger relationships between coaches and recruits while limiting the influence of third parties. On Aug. 1, a similar rule will be applied to NCAA football recruiters.Six months after the rule was put into effect in basketball, coaches at the college level are pleased with the outcome of the rule and how the recruiting process has evolved.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBefore the NCAA altered the rules, recruiters’ options were limited to sending emails, a hand-written note or relaying a message through a high school or AAU coach, Graves said. Now, recruiters can receive feedback from a player much more quickly after a notable performance by either the recruit or the college team.Some recruiters use direct messages on Twitter to interact with players, but Graves and Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins said they use Twitter to follow recruits and keep themselves informed of the recruiting spectrum.Twitter is also useful to build hype around a program, Hopkins said. He pointed to how Kentucky head coach John Calipari has tweeted about his interactions with celebrities such as Jay-Z and Charlie Sheen, tweets that could catch the eyes of a potential Wildcat.But for one-on-one communication, Graves and Hopkins don’t use Twitter or Facebook. They instead use phone calls and text messaging, two methods that Syracuse commit Ron Patterson said he preferred to be contacted by during his recruiting period.Hopkins said face-to-face exchanges are optimal, but being able to respond to texts at his convenience makes texting a valuable tool as well. The ability to text more than one recruit at a time is another perk of texting for Hopkins. Even 68-year-old Jim Boeheim texts, Hopkins said.“I’m telling you, it’s about texting. It’s awesome,” Hopkins said. “It’s a form of communication where they know you’re still actively recruiting them.”Hopkins doesn’t like to be an “overbearing” recruiter, which he thinks can be a positive and negative mentality. When building a relationship with a recruit, he said, it’s important to gauge just how frequently the recruiter should speak with the player.Graves said text messages have become so popular among recruiters because of the very prospects with which they interact.“Let’s face it, that’s the way kids like to communicate, via text, and they can do it on their own time,” Graves said. “And you’re not being overly intrusive and it’s just been a great way to open up another way to communicate.”The best recruiters, Graves said, will find the best ways to recruit, whether they use hand-written notes or adapt to new technology to communicate. A younger coach doesn’t necessarily have an edge over an older coach, said Jon Boon, the head coach at Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester, N.Y.Boeheim still lands good recruits, Boon said, and so does Duke’s 65-year-old head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Age isn’t a big factor in how recruiting is communicated, Boon said.“To be honest with you, it doesn’t really change a whole lot because they don’t contact the high school coaches very much anyway,” said Boon. “… They have too much direct contact, in my opinion.”Boon said recruiting violations and ongoing investigations across the country are the results of players and recruiters directly communicating with each other. Nobody is required to inform a high school coach when recruiters contact his players, he said.Since June, the NCAA has investigated UCLA – owner of the No. 2 recruiting class in the country – Central Florida, Tennessee and Saint Mary’s for potential violations.Cheaters will cheat, Boon said, regardless of how the process works. But violators now have an easier path to do so, since they aren’t required to communicate through anybody else.Boon said a third person needs to oversee the recruiter-recruit interaction. The procedure would improve for everyone, he said, if it returned to the way it used to operate, when recruiters contacted recruits through the high school.“I don’t know if there’s a right answer to the whole situation,” Boon said. “I just think there’s too much direct contact with the kids.”Recently, there was a football player at Bishop Kearney, Boon recalled, who was overwhelmed by the 30-40 phone calls he received each night from college coaches who were permitted to contact him directly – there was a brief period where the rule fluctuated.“He hastily made a decision to go to a school and by his own account, he made the wrong decision. And he had no one to kind of help him,” Boon said. “But the way the system is set up, it’s not done that way.”He has issues with the new rules, but Boon admitted he would recruit the same way if he were in that position.Carl Arrigale, the head basketball coach at Neumann-Goretti High School in Philadelphia, has an issue with college coaches texting players during school hours, distracting them from their classes. It takes away from the recruits’ high school experience, he believes.Still, he recognizes the complexity of the situation.“To be honest with you, I’m saying there should be restrictions on what you can do, (but) who’s going to know? It’s such a hard thing to monitor,” Arrigale said. “I mean, coaches get fired when they don’t have winning seasons anymore, so you almost can’t blame them for wanting an advantage. They need players to survive. It’s a catch-22.”Graves agreed the system isn’t fair, but believes it’s because of a “staff-to-staff issue,” not an issue with the rules. When Butler’s coaches recruit, Graves said, they keep the high school coaches as involved and informed as possible because they feel it’s the proper way to communicate.Regardless of whether the NCAA’s rules are flawed, Graves said it’s imperative that recruiters obey them and uphold the standards of the NCAA as they compete against each other for the next generation of student-athletes.“I think it’s our job as coaches to be responsible,” Graves said. “To utilize it in a way that will help enhance the process and getting to know not only the recruit, but their whole situation.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more